Aerospace Giants Introduce ‘Supersonic’ Plane Designed To Help ‘Revolutionize Air Travel’

[Screenshot/Youtube/NASA Video]

Fiona McLoughlin Contributor
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NASA and Lockheed Martin revealed their X-59 supersonic aircraft Friday, which is expected to pave the way for quiet supersonic flights.

“Using this one-of-a-kind experimental airplane, NASA aims to gather data that could revolutionize air travel, paving the way for a new generation of commercial aircraft that can travel faster than the speed of sound,” according to NASA’s press release.

NASA considers the X-59 to be “at the center of NASA’s Quesst mission,” according to the press release. The mission hopes to provide regulators with data to help them reconsider the rules prohibiting supersonic flight over land.

“This is the X-59, a single-seat X-plane aiming to reduce the sound of the sonic boom to a mere thump,” Lockheed Martin posted on Twitter. “It opens the possibility for commercial supersonic flights over land, which has been prohibited since 1973.”

In the past, supersonic flight over land was prohibited due to disturbances caused by the loud sonic booms from the flights, according to the press release.

The plane measures 99.7 feet long and 29.5 feet wide, according to the press release. Its thin nose accounts for most of its length and is designed to break up the shock waves that typically result in loud sonic booms. The design includes a mounted engine on the top of the aircraft, with a smooth underside to keep the shockwaves from merging, further preventing a sonic boom.

The cockpit is located nearly halfway down the plane, NASA noted. Since there is no front-facing window, a series of high-resolution cameras feed a monitor in the cockpit. (RELATED: NASA Spacecraft Beams Cat Video To Earth From 19,000,000 Miles Away). 

“This is a major accomplishment made possible only through the hard work and ingenuity from NASA and the entire X-59 team,” Pam Melroy, NASA’s Deputy Administrator, said in the press release. “In just a few short years we’ve gone from an ambitious concept to reality. NASA’s X-59 will help change the way we travel, bringing us closer together in much less time.”

X-59 is set to take off later this year, according to the press release. Several tests will be conducted by the Quesst team before it will be transferred to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, located in Edwards, California. Once the aircraft passes the tests, it will fly over numerous soon-to-be-selected cities across the U.S., collecting data about the sound generated and how people perceive the noise.